Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Nigeria, A National Cesspool of Hatred

"Questioning suspects is a lengthy process. It is better to take time to screen them out than to allow a single terrorist to go free and carry out a suicide bombing."
"[The Nigerian military follows] international best practices."
Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman army spokesman

"These women can kill. They are used to killing and slaughtering people."
"You can't be absorbing people into your communities without deradicalizing them."
Ann Darman, director, Gender Center, northeastern Nigeria

"Most of the camps have become centres of hunger, malnutrition and communicable diseases."
The Daily Trust

"The camp officials have been restricting some of us who are strong from going out."
"We have been living as prisoners, and the food meant for our care is being sold in the open market."
Umar Abdulsalam, refugee spokesman, Borno state, Nigeria
Nigeria accounted for more than half the worldwide killings of Christians in 2015.
Nigeria accounted for more than half the worldwide killings of Christians in 2015. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria is Africa's largest, most populous country. And just incidentally, endowed with the most valuable natural resources. When oil revenues reflected high revenues per barrel, the-then Christian led government in a country equally divided between Christianity and Islam, tended to give short shrift to the needs of the Muslim portion. Now that a Muslim government is in place and oil revenues are down it is the Christians who are deprived and the Muslim demographic that is benefiting.

But it is from among the Muslim part of the country that Boko Haram arose and began its marauding, looting, raping, killing spree as a dedicated jihadist terrorist group claiming affinity first to al-Qaeda and more latterly connection to Islamic State. The new Nigerian president, an orthodox Muslim and former general, vowed to eradicate Boko Haram, but the underpaid, under-armed military is almost as ineffective as under the previous administration.

There have been some successful battles against Boko Haram, though it is far from being eliminated. But the incidence of arresting civilians looking for protection with the military from the terrorist group has increased; detention centers and barracks where civilians are supposed to be interrogated to ensure they are not Boko Haram sympathizers have become death traps for those placed in them. And those in the camps include women who have escaped their captivity by Boko Haram.

Officials are suspicious of all such people given the success of Boko Haram in transforming captives into bombers. Children as young as eight, mothers, boys, girls, have become suicide bombers, killing hundreds of people, trained to strike at crowded markets, schools and refugee camps alike. President Muhammadu Buhari instructed the military that corruption would no longer be the order of the day, spurring the military to routing the terrorists from remote villages.

The Chibok schoolgirls, though a more recent video highlighting their presence still with Boko Haram, have never been retrieved after two years of bondage. Screening by the military of men and boys can take on miserably violent dimensions. If the interrogators feel that those they question are withholding information the legs and hands0shackled people are beaten unmercifully; some never seen again. Hostility between Christians and Muslims results in violent clashes and deaths.

The refugee camps holding thousands close to Maiduguri in the north-east are short of food. Children are starving; there is no potable water, and temperatures soar into the 40s. Camp inhabitants are forbidden from leaving the camp precincts and there is nowhere they can access food. Humanitarian aid meant to be delivered to the malnourished disappears, looted and sold freely on the black market. An estimated 1.2 million to 2 million refugees are being held in the camps.

The state government of Borno is supposed to provide cooked meals to the refugees, but it fails to materialize. International aid workers trying to feed the malnourished children speak of starvation deaths. The bleak failure of the country to protect its own and provide safe haven for the vulnerable speaks of an enormous lack of will and dedication to the barest provision of human needs for survival.

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